FROM THE STANDS: KU Review

That was a really exciting day of college football. Both A&M and Florida State were pushed to the brink, Mizzou knocked off South Carolina, Tennessee/Georgia, Stanford/Washington … Good stuff.

But did Roger Goddell really meet with Charlie Strong? That really happened? If I am Texas telling EVERYONE that. Every recruit, every parent, every coach, everyone. I want the world to know that the most powerful man in sports running the most powerful game in America came to US to figure out how to get his employees under control.That’s how important guys not breaking girl’s faces, not hitting kids and generally not being monsters is in the world today. It’s so important to the business that he needs guidance and advice on how to run a clean program, and he came to Charlie Strong because that’s what Strong is doing in Austin. I want every mother and every father to see that, and if people are going to negatively recruit against Texas and use discipline as the reason to not go, Charlie Strong needs to show those school’s arrest records and his picture with Roger Goddell on the wall and let them know the NFL is conforming to Strong’s ways, not the other ways.

But Mr. Goddell, what do you need guidance on? Do you really need someone to show you how to kick wife-beaters, kid-hitters and other violent offenders to the curb? Seems like it should be pretty obvious to me.

Back to the Aggies. I was rooting for Arkansas for the simple reason that I hate Texas A&M. But I won’t lose any sleep over it, because Arkansas is pretty high up the hate list, too. But did you see the “I’m so confused” clip? It’s brilliant on several levels: first, “I am so confused.” Second, the girl behind her with complete awe and wonderment when she sees herself on the jumbotron. The girl in front of her looks like she wants to punch someone. Probably the girl that was confused behind her. Also, it was a 51-yard touchdown on a fake punt. Take a look.

A few more things:

  • Texas State won in triple overtime at Tulsa. Well done!
  • Highland Park High School alumni are doing work: Clayton Kershaw is 21-3, headed to the playoffs and about to win his second straight Cy Young, Matt Stafford has the Detroit Lions 3-1 and then there’s Ohio State strength coach Anthony Schlegel regulating.
  • I LOVE Syracuse’s uniforms from Saturday.
  • Also the Nebraska black/red helmets, Oregon State’s mat-black and even Kansas’ all red.
  • Um, what?

Let’s hop in.

 

GAME FOUR

TEXAS 23 KANSAS 0

Winning ugly is still winning, and that was pretty ugly. But it was also a win, and I’ll take it. Apparently Kansas was really unhappy with what they saw Saturday since 2012 and fired head coach Charlie Weis. He’s the first casualty of the 2014 season, but one that is hardly unexpected. You know who they had lined up and ready to go before Weis came into the picture in 2012? Gus Malzahn. How different would they look now had Malzahn been there? Or Mark Mangino didn’t attitude himself out of the job? Lots. Don’t call your team a pile of crap, coach, even if it’s true, because it’s ultimately your fault since you created and were in charge of that pile.

Texas is 2-2 and now the gauntlet awaits, but being 1-0 in conference play and getting a win is a great feeling.


Initial Reactions

It was Homecoming at Kansas, and while Vance Bedford took exception, the goal of Homecoming isn’t scheduling a cupcake for an easy win, but rather a bigger name to help draw as many people back to campus as possible. It didn’t work. The stands were nowhere close to full and since there was no audio for the first five minutes of game time, you could hear the crowd like you were there, it didn’t sound like a big factor.

Hey, you guys, did you know that Brady Quinn played for Charlie Weis? He did. We all apparently have the memory of a goldfish, so Fox decided to remind us of that about every 5 minutes. I am usually not a “the announcers hate us” sort of guy, but that was about as pro-Kansas a broadcast as it could be. It wasn’t so much anti-Texas, but if you told me that game was on the Jayhawk Network, I’d surely have believed you.

It wasn’t sexy, but it still counts. At no point did I ever for one second think Kansas was going to win, take the lead, find a way to win the game or anything else on Saturday. Texas sure didn’t look great in all phases of the game, but they were dominant and won going away.

 

The Good

The Texas defense in the red zone. Duke Thomas in coverage. John Harris. Jaxon Shipley. Will Russ. The punt cover team. The punt return team. Forcing four turnovers. Four sacks. The first two drives of the game. KU linebacker Ben Heeney. That deep ball to Shipley by Swoopes. Armanti Foreman.

 

The Bad

A missed extra point. A blocked field goal allowed. The running game. Montell Cozart. The goal line fumble. The turnover on downs to start the game. The Fox broadcast. (Seriously, it’s by far the worst of the networks that do college football.) Texas running the option.

 

The In Between

Tyrone Swoopes’ touch on the deep ball. The linebackers. Kansas’ running game. The start of the third quarter.

The win is in the books and we need four more to go bowling. All in all a pretty solid day. Here’s what I saw on Saturday:

 

Offensive Line: KU’s defense was better than I expected — and statistically better than I gave them credit for — and their two linebackers, Heeney and Love, are very good.

I don’t really have a lot to say about the ol. They are young and learning, and things like not getting the snap at the goal line are going to happen. It’s an uphill battle at this point, and we are just going to have to ride it out.

It was brutal at times, and now we get the big dogs in the conference. Keep learning, fellas. We will get there.

 

Wide Outs/Tight Ends: John Harris is for real. The last few years he’s been a non-factor more or less, but right now he’s the best wide out on the team. He leads the team with 339 yards and four touchdowns and seems to have a real connection with Tyrone Swoopes. Saturday he was the chain-mover on third down, finishing with 89 yards and a score on six catches. It’s cliche, but he makes plays. Also making plays on Saturday was Jaxon Shipley, who had 81 yards on six catches, including that improv bomb. He looked as active and dangerous as ever on Saturday.

And how about Armanti Foreman? I said last week I thought he was the Daje-iest of the young guys, and he proved me right with a 30-yard reverse (which he fumbled but it went of bounds) and a seven-yard reception later. He’s lightning quick and I expect you’ll see more of him.

TWO tight ends made TWO plays. TWO. MJ McFarland caught another TD pass, which is what he does (1 catch, 1 yard, 1 score) and Geoff Swaim had 18 yards on his catch. At this pace they’ll have four plays by ou. FOUR.

 

Running Backs: The lack of a running game is not on the running backs. It’s easy to blame them because their production is down and they were supposed to be the feature in this offense. But the quarterback is gone and three starters up front are gone. What are they supposed to do? Where are they supposed to run when four people are waiting for them when they get there?

It’s not great, but it’s not surprising, either. If there are no holes, there is no place to run.

 

Quarterbacks: An uneven day for Swoopes, who went 19-31 for 218 yards and two touchdowns. He was terrrific spots, but he didn’t seem to have great touch on Saturday as he had some deep throws to Shipley, Marcus Johnson (he’s a non-factor right now without the threat of the deep ball) and a few others miss. He was long, or too far inside, or something, and they couldn’t connect. It’ll get better, but I hope it’s sooner rather than later.

I said last week you aren’t going to mistake Swoopes for VY. He is mobile, but after seeing him on Saturday it’s pretty clear he isn’t taking a broken play 60 yards for a touchdown. That’s just not his game. He’ll scramble on a bootleg and make some yards (like his 7-yard touchdown run), but we should scrap the option. It isn’t something I think he does very well.

What he does well, very well, is use his legs to extend plays. On that deep ball to Shipley, he rolled out, bought time and fired it downfield and Shipley made the leaping catch. It was identical to the one against UCLA to John Harris. He’ll run when he has to/is called on, but when you have that arm and that sort of mobility, a big play is just a db losing his man away. That’s Swoopes’ game, and he’s great at it.

I’ll take throwing it away, too. Major Applewhite told me a long time ago, “Sometimes you need to throw it away and live another day.” Swoopes seems to have that ability, unlike his Kansas counterpart.

He’s getting there.

 

Defensive Line: Hassan Ridgeway got the start and was great, totaling seven tackles with one for loss. He and Mr. Brown combined for 13 tackles, two for loss and a qb pressure (Brown). They are an imposing duo inside. At end Caleb Bluiett got the start and broke up the first KU offensive play of the game, and Ridgeway got the tackle on the second play. Teams are scheming against Ced Reed and not running his way, but he still had four tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a qb pressure. Subbing in for Bluiett, Shiro Davis also got a sack. The Texas defensive line is for real.

 

Linebackers: But the linebackers are still a bit of an issue. Steve Edmond and Jordan Hicks had great stat days with a combined 21 tackles (top two on the team Saturday) and a pick by Hicks, but there were times again when the Kansas offense caught them guessing or running themselves out of plays. You think about how many times a Texas play broke down when Swoopes or the running backs would get tackled outside, almost every single time it was KU linebackers Heeney or Love making that play. Texas needs the linebackers to do the same thing.

Saturday they were much, much better and played well, but the lingering issues were still there and with the competition stepping up to K2 levels the next two weeks, they need to play better and more consistently.

The third quarter defense was better and the result was great, but I saw KU hit them with the running game in the same spot UCLA did.

 

Secondary: Simply put, that was the best day ever for Duke Thomas. He had two interceptions and was a facemask, blatant facemask, away from getting his third. I’ve been hard on Duke with my “find 21” comments at times, but he was outstanding on Saturday. As was Quandre Diggs, who took a tip drill down for an interception in the end zone, ending a KU threat. He also got a sack on a corner blitz, which was a terrific play and a terrific call.

The safeties were solid and I didn’t see any silly mistakes or breakdowns that often come when a mobile quarterback is running around. Very disciplined and well-executed.

 

Special Teams: A 41-yard punt return by Jordan Shipley set up the game’s opening score, but then Texas missed the extra point. Then they had a field goal blocked. Then they had two penalties on the same kick one time.

It didn’t cost Texas the game, but there were four points left on the field. Texas special teams are bad right now, and, if I am Charlie Strong, I’m reassigning some coaches to elevate the level of play. They have already cost Texas one game and it will cost them another if they don’t get it figured out.

 

So …

Texas got the opening kickoff, so that was a good start. I kid, I kid … A shutout is great, especially on the road, no matter who you’re playing. The effort was there, the defense was lights out at the end of the day (they gave up some rushing yards, especially in the third quarter again, but they clamped down when they had to) and the offense made some plays.

Yes, the offense made some plays. The first two drives totaled 21 plays, but they couldn’t finish turning it over on downs and fumbling at the two. Those are both bad things, but the good news is they were able to move the ball on a fairly stout defense. Texas is going to have to figure out some alternatives to the bootleg, because KU was ready for that and their olb’s were good enough to shut it down. Better athletes await Texas in the next few weeks. Better teams, too. But right now I’m going to enjoy the win.

 

LAST WEEK IN THE BIG 12

No. 4 oklahoma (4-0/1-0)   BYE WEEK

WEST VIRGINIA (2-2/0-1)   BYE WEEK


Thursday, September 25th

TEXAS TECH 35 No.24 OKLAHOMA STATE 45
What was that on Tech’s helmet? I felt like I was looking at 1990-era dot art and a giant sailboat or a rocket was going to suddenly appear if I could unfocus my eyes. Davis Webb got hurt and pulled and pouted on the sidelines, and Oklahoma State shook off some early shots to win. Tech is not very good. I think KK is in trouble.

 

Saturday, September 27th

No.7 BAYLOR 49 IOWA STATE 28
Bryce Petty threw for 336 yards and a score with one pick, and a less-than-focused Baylor team jumped out to a 35-7 lead at the half. It wasn’t as pretty as they would have liked, but it was never really a game.

UTEP Miners 28 No.25 KANSAS STATE 58
Exactly as I thought. K-State was mad and UTEP isn’t very good and it was over quickly.

TCU 56 SMU Mustangs 0
The idea of Mack Brown to SMU is intriguing. He knows every coach in the state, would have a fan base that is familiar with him and I can guarantee you SMU would pull in some big-time talent and have them competing for the AAC title in a year or two. Plus we’d all get to watch it. I’m all for it.

That’s it for this week. Back on Thursday with the preview for Baylor.

FacebookGoogle+EmailTwitter
Comments are closed